Monday, February 1, 2010

I'm back

Not that I went anywhere; I just quit posting for a couple days. I have tons of catchup to do on yall's blogs, but I figured I'd write this first.

Last Thursday, I did the mines with C on Mama. I took Cersei and my gun - I figured two people and two horses would keep the coyotes away, and if not I'd shoot one and then hike home to catch my horse. Fortunately, they'd eaten - we found two piles of feathers from slow moving birds. We didn't see anything and we had a nice ride.

Friday ~C and I trailered over to Hungry Valley and did a nice long ride. Usually you drive through a cattle gate and park off to the side of the open range and ride out from there - but there was a muddy hill down to a very small lake (or very large puddle) then a muddy hill up to the cattle grate, and we didn't think we could make it. As we were riding over to the cattle grate, a guy in a little 2x4 pickup barely made it through the puddle-lake and up the hill, so we made the right call. Buuut... we still had to get through the cattle grate.

There was a tiny space on the left where a horse could probably squeeze through, between a wooden post and a steel post and over a small boulder. Crysta investigated it throughly... and Diego decided it was a trap. He was totally convinced he couldn't squeeze through it. She asked if I wanted to try it, so I hopped off and confidently led Dixie straight up to it and through it... taking the wooden post with us. It got hung on her stirrup and broke off at the base - it must've been dry rotted pretty badly. Woops.

With his buddy on the other side - and the opening enlarged - Diego came through pretty quickly. ;)

We mounted up and rode pretty slowly toward the hills on the other side of the valley. The roads through the valley were pretty sloppy - that nasty sand and silt that gets slimy when it's wet. And they were wet! At one point I was riding on the left, just off the slippy road, when Dixie decided to drift over onto the road. I cued her to please turn left and get off the road, and she did that super annoying thing where she turns her HEAD left and her FEET keep going right. I was just getting ready to kick her in the ribs when wham down she went. She turned her neck and gave me this look like "WTF just happened?" and I said "You idiot, that's entirely your fault!" Then while I was trying to decide if I should hop off she scrambled back to her feet. She seemed fine, so we kept on keeping on.

Both the horses got excited when they saw the cows. Diego got all tense and spooky and Dixie's head came straight up and she got tense. I rode Dixie in tight little circles around the sagebrush til she quit worrying so badly and we proceeded on. Most of the cows wandered off when we got to the edge of their flight zone - except for the friggin longhorn who didn't want to stop licking salt! We had to ride between her and the rest of her herd! I think we were both ready to run if she got upset, but she didn't.

We rode up a hill and took pictures. Looking south:
South to Peavine

Crysta and Diego:
C and Dig

Me and (dirty) Dixie:
Me and Dixie

The skeleton of a couch menaced Dixie on the way up - it was hiding behind a tree, waiting to eat her. I made her show no fear and walk calmly past it, and it didn't pounce. When we got to the top of the hill, we got off and walked down - it was a steep descent, still snowy, and pretty wet.

On the other side of the hill, we saw a bunch of junk. It made me feel at home! There's rednecks everywhere :) There was a modern art display of one new tire (on a rim), one old CRT computer display (with a bullet hole in it), and one 80s deep freeze. The horses didn't look twice at it, but Crysta and I both got kinda creeped out by the fridge. There could be a zombie, or a murder victim, or 400 lbs of rotten elk, or who knows what in that thing. We got by it as quickly as we could walk. A few yards down the hill, we passed a pile of dead TVs (with bullet holes in them). Near the bottom of the hill is apparently a popular place to shoot - there were hundreds of casings and broken clay skeet.

Once we got off the hill, it was back to untouched high valley. We decided the roads were too sloppy and wandered cross-country back to the truck. And Dixie got lost! You know how horses usually know where the trailer is? She lost it. We could see the truck and trailer, but she didn't notice it or something and kept wanting to head further north.

When we got back to the (broken) fence, Dixie did not want to go back through it. After all, it grabbed her last time - and we weren't even going to the trailer (according to her)! I let Crysta go first then managed to sweet-talk my brave girl through. I gave Dixie her post-ride apple as soon as she was through - I was very proud of her.

I thought it was a beautiful ride (scary chest freezers aside), and I'd love to go back when the trails dry up and we can move faster than a walk. We did 9.64 miles in 3:22 - sucky, I know, but that includes conquering the cattle gate both times, and only walking.

I gave her the weekend off, then did hill work today. Dixie rocks - I let her walk down hills and pushed her to trot or walk fast up hills, and she did 5.82 miles in 1:30, a 3.8 average. (That includes moseying the last half mile home very slowly and then forgetting to turn off the GPS til after I wormed her and fed her an apple. It's closer to 4 mph if I discard the last lap.) She was sweaty as all get out, but it was (relatively) warm and sunny and she recovered nicely. I let her trot down some slight inclines - I don't want to strain her legs, but I want her to start to figure out how to keep her balance at speed going downhill. So we trot down slight grades on sand. Our total elevation change was about 2500', so it was Serious Hill Work.

Today Crysta inspired me to get the myGarmin thingie set up. Here's today's ride and Hungry Valley. I spent way too much time playing with my data on there.


  1. I totally FORGOT about his Bam-Bam ponytail!!! =)

  2. What pretty views you have on the trail--it sounds like you are having wonderful adventures!

  3. Sounds like a fun adventure! And a great training session- people pay $$ to go to clinics to try and do the same thing. :-)

    I've always wondered about the whole cattle gate thing if you had to cross and there really wasn't a "good" way to do so. Glad it all worked out.

    And soon you will be chasing the Coyotes. :-)

  4. I'm am so JEALOUS of the places you get to ride! Beautiful!

    What is it about those silly ponies not wanting to stay upright this time of year? Silly beasts!

  5. OMG you are so calm about her falling on you. I would have been FREAKING out. Ever since I had that experience with Minx I have NOT had a good feeling about that situation. Farley *almost* fell on me on a muddy ride I did on Friday with my aunt. I just stay perfectly still and balanced and quiet and so far, both times she has floundered in soft footing she's managed to get out without falling, but if she ever did fall on me, I would probably just die of fright. Yep, my heart would just stop.

    Farley fell on the pavement at a ride last season - luckly I was leading her, but that was very tramatic too....

  6. Glad yall liked it!

    Adam, I was thinking if you kept a sheet of 3/4" plywood in the back of your truck, you could cross a cattle grate that way. Course, we would've had to drag a 50 lb sheet of plywood a quarter mile... no fun. I should carry a Leatherman, in case there's an emergency and I need to cut fence to get an injured horse/person out in a hurry. Hmmm.

    Mel - I got over being afraid of falling in the mud. This is what ALL my trails in Memphis looked like for about 6 months of the year. It's amazing, but I promise you - I never saw a tendon injury, and I only saw a couple of cuts from rusty metal in the mud. God protects fools and innocents, right? Sigh.


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